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Company numbers in an infantry battalion

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Company numbers in an infantry battalion

Postby cdk » August 7th, 2015, 8:40 pm

I've been digging around in the muster rolls for the 1st Bn 82nd Foot from 1814-1815 (WO12/08609). My understanding of a battalion organization is that it typically would have 8 center companies, a grenadier company, and a light company. However, in these muster rolls the companies are simply numbered 1 through 10 without any other apparent designations. Would I be correct in assuming that company 1 corresponds to the grenadier company and company 10 corresponds to the light company? Or did some battalions not have specialized flank companies? Thanks for any assistance.
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Re: Company numbers in an infantry battalion

Postby Josh&Historyland » August 7th, 2015, 11:03 pm

Rest assured all infantry battalions had Light and Grenadier companies, and I think you might be right in your assumption, but not having come across the anomaly before I couldn't comment as to whether Grenadier was also Number 1 and the Light was also number 10.

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Re: Company numbers in an infantry battalion

Postby 348 White » December 21st, 2015, 10:08 pm

Numbering of flank companies seems to have been inconsistent looking at some examples from the period.
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Re: Company numbers in an infantry battalion

Postby 348 White » June 24th, 2016, 6:56 pm

in 1815 2/73rd had apparently Grenadier Company as No.6 and its Light Company as No.8.
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Re: Company numbers in an infantry battalion

Postby 348 White » June 24th, 2016, 7:15 pm

Josh&Historyland wrote:Rest assured all infantry battalions had Light and Grenadier companies, and I think you might be right in your assumption, but not having come across the anomaly before I couldn't comment as to whether Grenadier was also Number 1 and the Light was also number 10.

Josh.


All line infantry battalions, including Guards, Fusiliers and Highlander,s but not Light Infantry or Rifle Battalions.Some provisional units formed from different units might lack flank companies, such as the one formed for the 1809 expedition to Walcheren.

Sometimes flank battalions might be formed by taking the companies from their parent units and placing them under a field officer. The Waterloo campaign saw the four light companies of 5th British Brigade used in this manner under Lt Col Vigoureux. their elite status rendered flank companies more liable to be detached for amphibious operations when space was limited, such as the 33rd flank companies who served in operations in the Indian Ocean in 1810.

Light infantry training was given to all men of a unit, certainly the ones serving in Northern Europe and Holland in 1813-14, useful if a light company was absent or needed re-enforcing. Accounts of Waterloo mention the 79th Highlanders using extra men to re-enforce their skirmishers.
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Re: Company numbers in an infantry battalion

Postby jf42 » June 24th, 2016, 10:17 pm

The reference to the 2/73rd challenges any obvious notion of systematic notion of numbering, the most obvious being that of seniority, whereby when forming up on parade, or in battle, the numbered regiments alternated in order of seniority in the line, thus:

2-4-6-8-7-5-3-1 or in brigade: 2-4-3-1.

Thus, when numbering companies, we might expect the two flank companies, being the most 'senior' and taking the flanks, Grenadiers on the Right, the post of honour, Light company on the Left (from 1771 onwards), to number 1 and 2- but clearly they did not.

It may be worth investigating the possibility that companies numbered according to the seniority of the 'Captain', from the Colonel's company at '1' down to '10'. Numbering would thus have changed as officers came and went. That isn't as disruptive as it sounds, given that companies were administrative bodies, not tactical units. It would explain how the Grenadiers and the Light coy of 2/73rd came to be numbered '6' & '8.'

I am fairly sure that command of the flank coys was not determined by seniority. Is that right?
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Re: Company numbers in an infantry battalion

Postby A.Roads » June 26th, 2016, 8:26 pm

I do not know the answer to this interesting question of how Companies were numbered. But I do know that in times of peace army reductions meant less men per company & a drop from 10 to 8 companies. This practice may have affected how Companies were numbered. At the end of the Napoleonic wars the Guards had approx 1200 men per battalion, not long after that they reduced to 80 men per Company, & in 1821 further reductions meant that they dropped 2 Companies to 640 Rank & File in 8 Companies.
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